Photo: Michael Basu

The best thing about the Rock ‘N’ Roll Rumble has been the same secret that’s endured throughout a reign rolling through its third decade: at the Rumble final, everybody wins. Really.

Though yes, technically, Goddamn Draculas took the Rumble 2014 crown—and congrats especially to former Digster and GD drummer JR!—the competition, which is a thinly veiled music festival with the lifeblood of the Boston music scene coursing through its veins more than anything else, was one of the stiffest in years. Past criticisms hurled the Rumbles’ way for a lack of diversity on the lineup (Ageism! Zip code-ism! No Allston bands are ever in the Rumble!) haven’t had a place for Rumble 35, and they certainly didn’t have one in Central Square over the course of the past month. The final totally reflected that, as the only common denominator between contenders Await Rescue, Petty Morals and Goddamn Draculas were an intense need for earplugs to keep raging tinnitus at bay.


Photo: Michael Basu



Photo: Michael Basu 

As victors, the Goddamn Draculas arrived at the trophy on the heels of maddening guitar swells and harmonies both throat-shredding and perfectly pitched, and definitely not unlike the kind you gravitate towards when facing an actual juke box at a sticky dive. It would’ve been incredible to see an all-female band as infectious and addictive as Petty Morals become Rumble champs as every winning band to date has had a Y chromosome in its makeup, and their songs had the catchiest hooks of the night by far with some Runaways/Go Go’s vibes going on. (Amy Douglas of FEINTS—who sadly had to leave this year’s Rumble running due to illness—is a big fan of “Tight and Outta Sight,” and we back that up.) Await Rescue’s got a bit of an Action Movie Soundtrack thing going on in that anything from their arsenal is intense, driven and ripping enough that it can be repurposed for backing a high-speed chase or SWAT team bust, and though the screams were unmatched, the songs themselves didn’t quite have the packed heat of those that followed. The Information swung through for a special one-off performance—the last time they were onstage together was something like five years ago—and everyone’s favorite culture jackass Luke O’Neil (jk Luke love you mean it) sat in for a song or two before the judges went off to deliberate.


Photo: Michael Basu

All barreling rock bands who didn’t see the wrong side of a solid power chord last night, each Rumble finalist channeled the enthusiasm of an over-capacity crowd who showed up to celebrate. That lot happened to consist of tons of Boston talent, with current and former Rumble participants downing picklebacks and raising fists all over the venue from Await Rescue’s opening riff to the rousing cheer that rang out when Goddamn Draculas clutched the title. Past and present members of Motherboar, Kingsley Flood, Parlour Bells, The Easy Reasons, The Lights Out, Bodega Girls and a zillion more were hanging out and taking notes, and there was plenty of chatter about shows and collaborations getting plotted in the weeks following Goddamn Draculas’ victory. A scene that rages together wins together, and maybe that’s why the Battle of the Bands aspect of the Rumble is more of a big group hug than an actual competition.


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